The Year of Metal Point

We speak to Morley tutor and metal point artist Erika Winstone about the unique artform and where you can find inspiration. 

What does it mean to draw in metal?

Metal point involves drawing with metal, often using a classical stylus containing a rod which can be made of silver, gold, bronze, copper or other metal, onto a carefully prepared abrasive surface. This leaves a trace of the metal on the surface, which tarnishes to differing degrees, giving an amazingly delicate range of lines and ephemeral qualities. Although sounding relatively simple, it encompasses a wide range of methods, processes, adaptations and possibilities for future development. As a contemporary practice it seems to have been better known in the USA until now!

This could be called the year of silverpoint, as we have a number of important exhibitions that focus specifically on Metal point as a medium, in America and London.

These include the fantastic historic exhibition at The British Museum Drawing with Silver and Gold: Leonardo to Jasper Johns, which has travelled to London from The National Gallery of Art in Washington and is accompanied by a definitive catalogue available online, which I strongly recommend for a more comprehensive understanding of this medium.

In addition there have been contemporary exhibitions in London such as; Drawing with Metal at Patrick Heide Gallery presenting a range of international artists who each use drawing with metal in very individual ways these include; Lucie Beppler, David Connearn, Benjamin Cottam, Marietta Hoferer, Károly Keserü, Sam Messenger, Susan Schwalb, Dillwyn Smith and Damian Taylor and myself.

My own exhibition, Tarnished, with leading American metal point artist Susan Scwalb was on show at ArtHouse1 during December. The exhibition allowed the viewing of permutations of tarnish, lustre and luminosity in a range of new works on paper, canvas, video and installation, confirming this ancient technique as a vital medium in contemporary art.

Susan Scwalb is also in the British Museum show and is a fascinating highly accomplished metal point artist. Her works, along with my own work, are featured in the catalogue for the exhibition as example of innovative contemporary metal point artists to watch working in Britain.

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